The Qatari side have managed just one point in four matches, while the Gaurs have done slightly better with two points.
After a humbling 0-4 defeat to Persepolis FC on Matchday 4 of the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2021 on Friday, FC Goa are seeking redemption as they prepare to take on Al-Rayyan SC in their forthcoming clash. The match will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa on Monday and kick-off is set to happen at 10:30 pm IST.
In the post-match press conference on Friday, FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando revealed that his players are very tired. It is not an excuse at all – as the team have had to play matches once every three days in the past couple of weeks. Since the ACL is the most important club competition in the whole of Asia, it did not leave Ferrando much room for experimentation either, as he made minimal changes to his best possible playing XI across the first two matchdays.
He finally decided to rest some key players on Matchday 4 and we all know how the end result panned out. The one positive that can be taken from the defeat is that those important starters will be less tired on Monday. That, in turn, gives fans hope of another positive result – maybe even a win.
On that note here is Khel Now’s preview of the forthcoming clash between Al-Rayyan SC and FC Goa. Read on!
Stakes in ACL
Former FIFA World Cup winner Laurent Blanc has not been able to perform up to fans’ expectations as the Al-Rayyan head coach in the ongoing AFC Champions League. A solitary point against FC Goa is all that the team have achieved so far, in what has been a disappointing campaign for them.
Overall, they have one point from four games (one draw, three defeats) and are languishing at the bottom of the group table. Apart from the match against the Gaurs on Monday, they have one more game – against Persepolis the following Thursday. A win against the Iranian giants is extremely unlikely. Hence, the Qatari side will look to come out all guns blazing against Juan Ferrando and Co.
Taking all the three points from the FC Goa clash will not only boost their morale ahead of the final showdown against Persepolis, but it will also improve their position on the table.
In the AFC Champions League, the Gaurs are currently at third place in Group E. Despite this being their first-ever campaign in the competition, they punched well above their weight in the first three matchdays. The draws against Al-Rayyan and Al Wahda, and the goal against Persepolis are testament to this fact. However, fatigue got the better of their key first-choice starters, which forced Ferrando to rest most of them on Matchday 4.
Persepolis took advantage of that expertly and subjected the Gaurs to a big loss. But, with all of the rested stars set to return against Al-Rayyan and Al Wahda in the coming days, there is hope for the team to maybe finish higher on the group table.
Most of Al-Rayyan’s key players are available for selection on Monday. Franck Kom and Ahmed Abdelmaqsoud were shown red cards against Al Wahda and will hence sit out for the clash against the Gaurs. It will also be in Blanc’s best interests to lineup his best possible XI, to salvage whatever they can from what remains of their ACL campaign.
The extent of Edu Bedia and Ivan Gonzalez’s injuries remain unknown. However, sources have informed Khel Now that Bedia could return to the pitch on Monday. There is no doubt on the availabilitity of any other first-choice starter at the time of writing.
Al-Rayyan SC: Younes (GK); Khalilzadeh, Umar, Traore, Muftah; Al-Korbi, Hatem; Awad, Brahimi, Al-Hadhrami; Boli.
FC Goa: Dheeraj (GK); Seriton, Donachie, Adil, Sanson; Glan, Bedia; Romario, Brandon, Ortiz; Pandita.
Man to Watch
Yacine Brahimi (Al-Rayyan SC)
The focal point of Al-Rayyan’s attacks, Yacine Brahimi’s form is crucial to the Qatari side’s success. The 31-year-old has not been able to perform well lately, but that would make him all the more keen to create a good impression against the Gaurs.
Very few players in the current Al-Rayyan side are as technically gifted as the Algerian international. He can play as both an attacking midfielder and a winger. Brahimi did exceedingly well against the Gaurs when the teams faced each other earlier on Matchday 1. He creates plenty of goalscoring chances and has formed a good attacking partnership with striker Yohan Boli. The duo will do everything in their power to trouble the FC Goa defence on Monday.
And that leads us to the one man who should work extra hard to stop them…
Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem (FC Goa)
After keeping two clean-sheets and saving a penalty in the first three games, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem was rested on Matchday 4. He made way for Naveen Kumar against Persepolis and that turned out to a be a disaster for the Goan outfit.
Kumar conceded two goals from his own mistakes, while he could have saved a third one had he shown more awareness. Fans are now eagerly waiting for Dheeraj to come back and reclaim his first-choice position between the sticks.
The former FIFA U-17 World Cup star may have to be more alert than usual on Monday, due to the probable absence of defender Ivan Gonzalez. The Spaniard’s efforts at the back went underrated, as the Gaurs themselves discovered post his substitution in the second half against Persepolis on Friday. His injury may keep him out for longer and it will be up to the talented shot-stopper to save the day once again for his team.
The AFC Champions League 2021 Group E match between Al-Rayyan and FC Goa will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa on Monday. Kick-off is at 10:30 pm and the match will be telecast live on Star Sports 3. The game will also be streamed live on Disney+Hotstar (VIP and Jio TV.